tv The Situation Room CNN February 20, 2013 1:00pm-4:00pm PST
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inches of snow in nebraska. winter storm warning. that is the plains and i know they get it but we've been calling it the triple threat. there's heavy snow on the north side, severe storms and flooding to the southeast and in between not even drawn in here is an ice storm for springfield, missouri. here's the snow t does snow in denver along the front range and it eventually moves out by tomorrow night into salina. heavy snow by tomorrow morning in kansas city and getting a little snow into chicago before it's all said and done. >> chicago, they are used to that. >> that's right. >> thanks, chad. appreciate that. that's going to do it for me. see you tomorrow. "the situation room" with wolf blitzer starts right now. fred, thanks very much. happening now, prosecutors say the accused murderer oscar
pistorius and his girlfriend argued for an hour before she was shot. we have the latest revelations in this sensational case. the catholic church grappling with questions that haven't been asked in centuries. where does an ex-pope live and can they speed up the process of choosing a new pope? and the glory days of rocket men. an exclusive look at how the rocket business is booming. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." imagine getting every friday off for the next 22 weeks. but there's a catch. you won't get paid. you'll be forced to give up 20% of your weekly paycheck. that's the prospect facing thousands of people whose jobs depend on the defense department
and are now facing furloughs. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr has one worker's stories. she's joining us. barbara? >> wolf, we've heard about this fancy washington word sequester for months now. what does it really mean? it means for hundreds and thousands of federal workers trying to figure out how to live on less. maintaining fighter jets and warships at the ready, providing care at military hospitals, crucial military functions done by some 800,000 civilian workers. now the pentagon has told congress these workers will be forced to stay home one day a week without pay if mandatory spending cuts are not averted. >> everybody is waiting to hear. it's definitely become the new "f "word here. furlough. >> for federal workers it will mean painful decisions. peter is already making plans.
>> i'll pay those core bills. i'll pay the mortgage and the utilities and then you live on what's left. >> the head of the government workers union says his people have already suffered. >> already these employees have suffered a 27-month pay freeze. now a 20% pay cut. >> the impact of a one day a week furlough for 22 weeks will be widespread. >> on our civilians, it will be catastrophic. these critical members of our workforce, they work in our depos. they maintain and work on our crafts, our ships, they teach our kids. >> but how much do furloughs really save? of the $46 billion in mandated military cuts, the pentagon calculates it will account for 10%. the number two official at the defense department is vowing to stand with his workers. >> i can't be furloughed under the law because i'm a presidential appointee. but i'm going to give back a
fifth of my salary in the last seven months of the year. >> now, there will be exemptions, we are told, workers who are essential for safety and security of military bases and other facilities, some health care workers, some military law enforcement personnel. but this -- if it goes into effect, wolf, will hit very hard beginning in the march/april time frame. wolf? >> we know the pentagon will be cut $46 million for a total of the fiscal year. but how much discretion do they have at the pentagon, barbara? can they get rid of big ticket gun programs, weapons instead of furloughing these thousands of people, for example? >> they say they cannot do that, wolf. essentially, sequestration, that word again, means mandatory across the board budget cuts. everybody takes a hit. so they say they can't do that. >> the military will not
furlough workers on bases around the world and there are at least 100 bases around the world. only bases in the united states can be furloughed. why is that? >> in many cases these foreign nonu.s. workers are paid by the local countries so there's no savings there. in other cases, they would have to renegotiate essentially employment agreements with that government. that opens up a can of worms. a lot of this is just set in stone, very little discretion about how to carry all of this out if it comes to that, wolf. >> $46 billion in defense department cuts, according to this forced budget plan cut. just for some perspective, the u.s. is going to spend $88 billion this year, this year in afghanistan. we're going to have much more on this part of the story coming up later, barbara. thanks very much into here in washington, president obama is doing an end around the national press today. he's taking questions from local tv stations, blaming congress
for doing nothing to avoid these forced spending cuts scheduled to take effect in just nine days. so what kind of cuts is the president willing to take? jim acosta confronted the white house press secretary today with that question. jim is joining us now. how did it go? >> reporter: wolf, here we go again. the white house and congress move one day closer to the massive forced spending cuts that go into effect at the end of next week. and even though they both agree it's a problem, they are both busy blaming each other to fix it. the white house sounding the alarm. poor children will be tossed out of classrooms, health services will be slashed, border security will be compromised and the economy will take a hit if forced budgets cuts begin to happen on march 1st and the obama administration says republicans will be to blame. >> the pleas that the republicans are making are throw these people out of work.
it's just -- it makes no sense. >> reporter: but when pressed on whether the president has his own plan to stop the cuts, white house press secretary jay carney pointed to the grand bargain mr. obama failed to reach with house speaker john boehner two careers ago. >> when you ask where's the president's plan, it's been there. it's at whitehouse.gov. >> a budget plan for the long term, where is -- >> the president -- >> the president take the lead and -- >> first of all, congress has to act. >> reporter: less than two months since the fiscal cliff that resulted in tax increases on wealthy americans. boehner notes the idea for the automatic cuts originated in the white house adding mr. president, we agree that your sequester is bad policy. what spending are you willing to cut to replace it? the white house fires back pointing out boehner seems satisfied when it was all set in motion two years ago as part of
the debt ceiling deal of 2011. >> when you look at this deal that i came with the white house, i got 98% of what i wanted. i'm pretty happy. >> max baulk cause saying that the president shares some of -- as you mentioned, at the top of this piece, wolf, the president is speaking with a number of local tv stations around the country. it's part of the white house plan to go over the heads of congress and sort of sell the administration's position on these forced budget cuts to the american people and, wolf, i had a chance to ask a top gop aide up on capitol hill whether or not the administration is engaging in any new outreach with members of congress, with leaders on the republican side up on capitol hill and the word i got back from that aide was no new outreach, no old anything.
there are signs that the white house is not even sure as to the extent of these sequestered cuts and how far they will go. when asked if there will be furloughs here at the white house, press secretary jay carney said he was not sure and would have to get back to reporters and not sure whether it would affect the president's upcoming trip to the middle east. >> we had a little technical glitch at the end of that report, that piece that you put together. as far as the $85 billion in forced cuts expected to take place this year, everyone seems to think that the mandatory across the board cuts is a bad idea. is there a specific white house plan that has now been released for an alternative $85 billion in spending cuts? >> reporter: no, there is not a specific plan. that is what we tried to press jay carney on earlier this afternoon. they are pointing to the plan that senate democrats came up with last week that they say
would essentially replace the sequestered cuts that are supposed to go in to place. the republicans are baulking at that proposal. they are saying no dice on that. that proposal includes tax increases on wealthier americans, the so-called buffett rule and that's not going anywhere up on capitol hill. unless both sides can somehow come to an agreement and we've said all of this before, we've heard these words before, wolf, unless there is some kind of deal that can be cut in the hours before this deadline comes up late next week, this thing is going to happen, wolf. >> jim acosta over at the white house, thanks very much. this note to our viewers. later this hour i'll try to get some specific answers about what cuts the folks at the white house are willing to make right away to avoid these forced budget cuts. i'll be speaking live with the president's senior adviser, dan five officer. he'll be joining us from the
white house. out of control spending isn't just a federal problem. detroit is in such dire financial trouble, a blue ribbon panel predicts a $100 million shortfall by the end of the year. michigan's governor has 30 days to decide whether to put an emergency manager in charge of the city. detroit was once the nation's fifth largest city and now ranks 18th having lost a quarter of its population since 2000. tomorrow, the detroit mayor dave bing will be joining me here in "the situation room." i'll ask him what, if anything, can be done to save his city from bankruptcy. and now we turn to the latest revelations in the sensational murder allegations against oscar pistorius. he says he shot and killed his girlfriend, the model reeva steenkamp, by accident. prosecutors say the killing was intentional and premeditated. cnn's robyn curnow is joining us
from johannasberg, south africa. the prosecutor's laid out their plan. how did they do? >> reporter: it was like a roller coaster. i felt like i was watching a television drama. initially when the prosecutor laid out their case, they gave damning evidence and found two boxes of testosterone and syringes in his house. by the time the defense came in after lunch, bit by bit they ripped apart the state's evidence and unravelled quite spectacularly at one stage because there was quite an interesting exchange between oscar pistorius' lawyers and the investigating officer and he said, well, how do you know this is testosterone? have you tested it yet? and he said, no, i just read the label on the box. and he said, if you had gone to any pharmacy or any chemist, would you know that this is a herbal medicine. that's the kind of interchange taking place. also, the investigating officer
really looking quite red-faced by the end of his stint. he admitted that he he didn't wear protective foot covers or shoe covers when he he walked into the house so he contaminated the crime scene. and we also know that the defense said that they had this key witness that had heard shouting, arguing in the hour before the shooting but when pressed further, it emerged, much to the shock -- the court gasped, it emerged that this witness lived 300 or more meters, that's more than 1 thourk feet away from oscar pistorius' house. really various aspects of the state's case started unraveling and i think for anybody who supports oscar they would have been pleased with that outcome. his family issuing a statement that they found -- they were satisfied with the bail hearing, particularly, i must say -- and this is the clincher, wolf -- the investigating officer said that he actually couldn't find any inconsistencies with oscar
pistorius' version of events. >> that's obviously good news for oscar over there. did you see a difference in his demeanor? yesterday he was sobbing, he was breaking down. what about today? >> reporter: absolutely. we talked about it. he was physically sort of bent over yesterday and physically he seemed to sit straighter today and for me that told a lot, that he seemed to be dealing with the information that was coming out of the court a little bit better, obviously because his defense team was really hammering holes into the defense case. let me give you a sense of what his family is saying. his uncle has been talking to the press. take a listen to this. >> he's in extremely shock and so he's grieving and he's -- i don't expect him to get over it even soon and so he's still
emotionally -- >> reporter: of course, all of the focus on the drama in the courtroom today but many south africans say oscar pistorius spent his seven night in jail, just remember reeva steenkamp's family, their seventh night of realizing, trying to come to deal with the fact that she's not around anymore. that she won't be here. so still a very emotional day but very much a focus on the court proceedings. >> and just very quickly, they resumed the hearing tomorrow, is that the last day? will we know whether he will be eligible for bail or will he have to stay in prison? >> reporter: you know what, wolf, i'm just a humbled journalist. i'm not a legal expert but from what i understand there will be some sort of ruling by the magistrate tomorrow after the final arguments are made by each legal's team, it's understood the magistrate will rule whether he will get bail or not. it's uncan clear how he's going
to think and which way he's going to go. i'm not a betting person but just by the tone of what happened in court today, many people here, legal experts, journalists listening observe firmly believe oscar will get bail. but like i said, i'm not a legal expert but we'll have to see. >> we'll certainly will have to check back with you, robyn, thank you. we're about to meet a man new to washington but already making serious waves. whether you recognize him or not, stick around. we're going to tell you who he he is and why you need to pay attention to what he's doing. later, the catholic church scrambling to come up with a retirement plan for the soon-to-be ex-pope. [ male announcer ] your favorite foods fighting you? fight back fast with tums. calcium-rich tums starts working so fast you'll forget you had heartburn. ♪ tum tum tum tum tums
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>> and to ex clis sit plea agree as the world's bully, i would sult, is not the conduct one would expect of a secretary of defense. >> that's one of washington's newest arrivals who is already making some big waves. dana bash caught up with the new senator from texas. you just came back from texas. how did it go? >> very interesting. ted cruz is one of the few gop faces in the senate and he's already making sure he's a powerful voice of the gop. it had the look and feel of a campaign event. except freshman gop senator ted cruz isn't up for re-election for six years. these texans are applauding their senator's head-turning performance after only one month in office. >> mr. cruz, no. >> joining only two others to
vote against john kerry for secretary of state, aggressively defending gun rights and trying to take down defense secretary nominee chuck hagel. >> i've covered the senate for a long time. it's unusual for a freshman to be this out spoken on a high profile issue. >> at the end of the day, i was elected to represent 26 million texans and to speak the truth. you know, i think a lot of americans are tired of politicians in washington and both parties who play games. >> the 42-year-old cuban-american, the first hispanic governor from texas memorized the constitution as a teenager, thanks to his father, a cuban refugee. cruz became solicitor general of texas, arguing for state's rights and religious freedom before the u.s. supreme court. tea party activist bucked the gop establishment to help elect cruz and now see their hard work paying off. >> he's the total package. he's brilliant.
he's a great messenger for ideas and he's a guy you never have to wonder how he's going to vote. >> conservatives here in texas who fuel behind tea party senate win he's been so aggressive so fast but for some senior senators, not so much. one of the guiding principles for a freshman senator is come in and be a workhorse, not a show horse. you don't seem to be following that. >> the attention that has focused on me, in my opinion, is actually primarily being driven by an effort to distract from merits of the hagel nomination. >> cruz angers senators in both parties demanding to know without evidence if hagel received money from foreign countries that opposed u.s. interest. >> if that $200,000 that he
deposited in his bank account came directly from saudi arabia, came directly from north korea -- >> that got him a smackdown from john mccain. >> no one on this committee at any time should impune his character or integrity. >> from democrats, suggestions of mccarthyiasm. >> it was rep nis sent of bad times. >> i do find it ironic in the course of labeling me, they also chide me for not respecting comedy. >> it's clear cruz did not run for senate to make friends. >> i find it amusing that those in washington are puzzled when someone actually does what they said they would do. >> now one gop senator i spoke to about cruz saying that even in the case of healthy egos, cruz stands out for his ego and a tea party activist said that, wolf, he could do well with a small dose of humor.
but still it's very clear, talking to cruz, watching him, he relishes the kind of criticism. >> a lot of republicans will reject the nomination of chuck hagel to be defense secretary but only three. he was one of them, rejected john kerry. why did he he reject john kerry? >> because john kerry has agreed to and supported too many international treaties that give up the sovereignty of the u.s. when you look at the core of the conservative that it espouses, that is it. >> obviously he's a smart guy if he mem ritzed the whole constitution. >> is he a very smart guy. >> harvard high school? thank you for that reporting. coming up, carnival cruise lines facing more trouble after the disaster of its "triumph" cruise liner. this time from passengers who are not taking the offered compensation and are saying, we'll see you in court. is intensified with a serum.
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kansas city is still reeling from a blast that levelled a restaurant last night. lisa sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other stories. what's going on? >> we actually have new video of the moment that that blast hit. officials say it is too soon to say if more than one person was killed in last night's natural gas explosion. at least 15 people were injured. witnesses say the blast was so powerful it blew the roof off the building. about an hour before the blast, a utility crew responded to a report of a gas leak and suggested that the restaurant close, which it did, but witnesses say the crew gave no sense of urgency. and carnival is facing a
class action lawsuit over the disaster aboard the "triumph." a lawsuit alleges that the company knew or that it should have known that the boat could experience mechanical and/or engine issues since it had in the past. it also said that conditions on the ship contributed to risk or injuries. senator patrick leahy says it will take more time to win the release of american contractor allen gross from cuba. leahy met with raul castro to ask for his relief but felt relieved after the two-day visit. >> i wish he could be released. i think the point's been made. obviously it's going to take more negotiations but the man is not a spy. he should go home. >> is serving a 15-year sentence for bringing banned
communication equipment into cuba. and china is being accused of hacking into 20 industries worldwide. a crew from cnn tried to film a building at the center of the allegations in shanghai. you can see the chase there. security officers when they realized where they were, they immediately gave chase. well, after being chased down, a reporter had, in his words, cordial words with the officer when they asked for that video that they had taken. you could see those officers, they were really booking, trying to catch up. >> we're going to have a full report on what happened outside that building. that's come canning up later in "the situation room." thanks very much. no one has died on a boeing dreamliner but we've heard plenty about its safety issues in recent weeks. why aren't more people talking about the safety of buses, especially bus companies with some spotty safety records? ahead we're going to do just that.
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when safety issues slipped through the cracks is troubling for all of us. we've seen the stories about the cruise ships, the airliners, but commercial buses don't get a lot of attention. rene marsh is here and she's been investigating this part of the story. what are you finding out? >> wolf, we're finding out when it comes to these safety regulations, it's not quite equal and some advocates say that's a big problem. december 30th, pendleton, oregon, a tour bus operated by a company with a history of safety violations slides off a mountain highway killing nine, injuring 39. february 3rd, san bernardino, california -- >> a transfer on 38 just north of bryant on a tour bus that overturned. >> a school bulls? >> a tour bus. >> a tour bus operated by
another company all with a history of safety violations kareens down a mountains road. eight dead, 32 injured. >> she says a bus is overturned, there's multiple injuries. >> in both cases, federal motor records show numerous violations before the wrecks. but the feds found justification to shut down the companies only after the fatal crashes. some question whether enforcement is strict enough. >> we've got to have regulations with teeth and the penalties have to be a deterrent. >> larger buses can carry as many people as a regional jet. in recent years, there's only been one major plane crash in the united states. it went down near buffalo, new york, killing 50 people. meantime, roughly 300 people die on board buses every year, according to the department of
transportation. >> we would never see hours of service violations in aviation. pilots will not bust their hours. but we see it routinely on the highways. >> the d.o.t. says it's launching a crackdown targeting high-risk motor coach companies like those involved in the crashes. even representatives of the bus industry say it's about time. >> the 53 people who get on a motor coach, their safety, their well-being is just as important as the 53 or 58 people flying on an airplane on a regional jet. >> they encourage travelers to look at its safer bus application to look at the safety records but that wouldn't have helped people in this oregon crash because there was little details as far as prior safety issues. >> thanks very much. ahead in "the situation
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a last minute deal between the white house and congress, force spending cuts will hit federal workers in only nine days. i'm joined by president obama's senior advicer dan pfeiffer from the white house. thanks for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. >> you saw the wall street journal today blaming the budget crisis on what he called the president's failed leadership and he said, mr. president, you
agree that your sequester is bad policy. what spending are you willing to cut to replace it? so what -- you need $85 billion in spending cuts to avoid what's called these forced budget cuts or sequestration. do you have $85 billion in mind? >> we do. we also have a trillion dollars in mind to go along with tax revenue that would raise money for deficit reduction by closing loopholes for the wealthy. we can solve this problem over the short term. the house and senate democrats have a proposal combined with asking the wealthy to pay a little more by closing loopholes. the question isn't whether we have a plan. we have a plan. the question is whether the republicans are willing to compromise so we can actually solve the problem. >> the plan that you have in mind to avoid the forced budget cuts, give me examples of where you would cut. >> of the 85 billion, we have specific cuts on the foreign
program, cuts in defense spending that we would do. the overall deficit reduction, we have very specific cuts, reforms to medicare, including asking higher income seniors to pay -- >> is that part of the 85 billion? >> that's part of our -- the president's overall deficit reduction plan that would -- >> what i'm trying to do is find out on the 85 billion, to avoid what's called sequestration, the specifics. so how much would the farm -- the money that you want to eliminate for farm subsidies, how much would that bring in? that's about 30 billion, wolf. the house and democrats -- >> 30 billion over one year or ten year? >> in ten years. >> the whole idea of the sequester is spending over the next decade. the formula that the house and senate democrats are using are nearly 95 senators voted for, including 40-some republicans
just two months ago to avoid this sequestration. we're following their proposal. >> let's go through some of these specifics. i think it's interesting. 3 billion in farm subsidies. you still have 82 billion left to go. >> wolf, what you have to look at is the house and senate democrats plan. it's about $110 billion. half from tax revenue, half have spending cuts. it's our belief, the president's belief that we should deal with the second says sister and overall deficit reduction in a balanced way. the republican plan is that all of the deficit reduction should be paid for by seniors and the middle class and wealthy should pay nothing more. that's why the house and senate democrats have a plan that the president has endorsed, the buffett rule which would raise tens and billions of dollars in order to by ensuring that when we do tax reform, seniors are
d, millionaires will not pay less. >> you saw what john boehner, the speaker, wrote in "the wall street journal." the president has repeatedly called for more tax revenue but the american people don't favor spending cuts for higher taxes. they understand that the tax debate is now closed. he says, forget about additional tax increases between now and next friday. that's close. >> one thing, if the speaker is -- believes that the american people don't think that the wealthy should pay more by closing loopholes, he he must be reading the same polls that have mitt romney winning ohio. second, i also heard what the speaker said two month ago when he came to the president and said, we he could raise a trillion dollars by closing loopholes that benefit the wealthy. so we agreed with him then. we think it's the right proposal to do. i'm not sure exactly what's changed but the speaker was right when he said there are
hundreds of billions of dollars in the tax code. loopholes that benefit corporate jet owners, hedge fund managers. we can close those loopholes because we can make those tax reforms fair. >> he's opened to comprehensive entitlement reform, social security, medicare, and medicaid. but that's a big ticket item that you're not going to resolve between now and next friday. you have an immediate issue you have to deal with. otherwise, there are going to be all of these furloughs and pain that is going to come right away. is the president ready to invite the speaker to come to the white house over the next few days and work out a deal? >> well, the president is going to talk to the leaders in both parties and both houses to try to get this done. that can only happen if the republicans are willing to compromise. only congress can turn off the sequester. the president thinks we should turn it off, house democrats, senate democrats. we can't do anything without the house republicans doing something. and their view is, these cuts
should happen. they have made a political decision that these automatic cuts should go into effect, which means that there are americans working today who will lose their jobs. that's a choice they are making. >> because nobody wants these automatic spending cuts. >> that's actually -- wolf, that's actually not true. speaker boehner has said that these are leverage. this is leverage for him to try to extract an ideological agenda that includes slashing medicare, slashing education. they have no realistic plan to avoid these cuts. they have said they wanted them to go into effect. that's bad for the country but let's be very clear what that choice means they are making. that means some americans will lose their jobs, kids will get kicked out of head start. the president thinks that's the wrong choice for the country and with commonsense compromise we can attain it. it takes two to tango and the republicans are refusing to compromise. >> why did the president come up with this deal to begin with? >> wolf, this is all part of the
debt ceiling negotiations in 2011, where the republicans said that we are going to force the country to default if we don't get what we want. and so the president working with congress came up with a proposal that tried to force congress to do balance deficit reduction. congress is choosing not to do that because republicans are refusing for a very long time and consider tax revenue a part of that. let's forget, the speaker says now this was the president's idea. after this was passed and the speaker voted for it and all of his lieutenants voted for it, he went to the floor of the house and crowed about how this was a deal where he he got 98% of what he wanted. maybe the trillion dollar sequester was the 2% he didn't want but i find a lot of that hard to believe. they he should stop trying to cast blame here and actually try to help the american people by working with this president to come up with a balanced solution to deal with this secoquester a
focus on job growth and economic growth in this country. >> you could come up with $85 billion very quickly if you decide to get out of the debt this year as opposed to next year. is that at all on the table? >> no the the president talked in the state of the union about his plan to remove about 30,000 troops from afghanistan next year. he's working with the military on how to end the war and what's in the best interest of the country. >> because they are spending $58 billion in troops and all of these dire situations would go into effect. >> wolf, the democrats have a pro boes sal and we're willing to talk with republican if they are willing to compromise. right now their approach is my way or the highway and guaranteeing that these cuts will go into effect. >> the farm subsidies, that's one area that you're willing to cut right away. is there another example because
farm subsidies? >> we can do cuts in defense spending. >> how much in defense spending this year do you want to cut as part of the 85 billion? >> the president has -- it represents about half of the spending side of the house and senate democrats proposal. >> that's what the sequestration plan has. would you do the same thing? >> no the problem is with the sequester is it's a meat cleaver. these cuts go in and doesn't offer the pentagon and military the chance to make smart cuts in the best interests of this country. secretary panetta talked about a carrier group that would not go to the gulf because of these cuts. we can cut defense spending. there are places that we can save money but we should do it in a smart way. the path that it would put us on is making choices that protect this country and secure the homeland in the best way, we don't want to do that. they do. >> one final question because we're out of time. boehner coming over to the white house over the next nine days, is that in the cards? >> look, if they are willing to
compromise, the president's door is always open. what doesn't make any sense for us is if they are going to take this my way or the highway approach, we are wasting time. if they actual leap want to find a solution to this, the president is here in the white house waiting for them to return from recess. >> but the president has to offer the invitation, right? >> the door is open and we will be talking to the speaker and everyone else in the coming days. our hope is that they are willing to do the right thing for the american people. >> nine days to go. dan pfeiffer at the white house, you are going to be busy not just these nine days but the next four days as well. thank you very much. believe it or not, the u.s. rocket industry is booming. an exclusive look inside the place where they make the latest generation of rockets. ♪
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the days of u.s. space shuttle launches are gone forever and nasa along with the rest of the federal government faces mandatory spending cuts. you may be surprised to find out that the rocket business is booming right here in the united states. you just have to know where to look. here is cnn's john zarrella. >> reporter: in all shapes and sizes in different stages of developments, it's pounding and dipped and when this high-tech tinker toy is put together, you get a rocket launch. >> three, two, one, main engine start, zero, and liftoff. >> reporter: while the nation's space shuttle program is over,
the rocket business is, well, taking off. the number of companies working on rockets and spacecraft seems to grow daily. there is a bit of a feeding frenzy to reach the new frontier. >> i think we'll see some of these smaller players start to peter out as either their objectives don't line up with nasa or funding streams dry up or simply technical. >> united rocket launch there are 20 different delta rockets in the pipeline that will eventually carry shuttles into the spacecraft. they carry a nondescript 1,000 sheet of metal, down to 1100 pounds when the milling process is done. what you're looking at are segments of the second stage of at an las 5 rocket, stainless steel segments. how thick are they? they are less than the thickness
of in dime. this is not new high-tech rocketry. it's been around a while. a long while. >> and this thin wall stainless steel technology -- >> reporter: that's this right here? >> this is the technology that put john glenn into orbit. >> reporter: what's changed, rocket manufacturing has improved. amy oversees processing, a dream job. >> not everybody can wake up and their job is to build, test, and launch rockets. >> reporter: but more people are lately, a sign of a booming industry. ula has added 200 employees in the last few years. >> just the wages bringing to the area but then the suppliers that they bring in and the number of jobs, it's in the millions and millions of dollars. >> reporter: spinoffs are part of the job, too. metal is coated with an anti corrosive material. years back they needed to recoat
areas. one formula after another was tried until on what was called the 40th water displacement test, they found something that worked. and thus was born -- to this day you use wd-40? >> yes. >> reporter: that's wd-40? look at that. you may never look at the business of rockets quite the same again. now, nasa is going to use delta rocket for its first flight next year of the new spacecraft and that delta rocket, wolf, is being built right now in decatur and who would have ever thought that it would turn out to be wd-40. wolf? >> john zarrella has been our rocket man. always has been, always will be. jesse jackson jrs. fall from
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a guilty plea today from former congressman jesse jackson jr.. a popular restaurant disappears in a ball of flame. we'll take you to the scene of the devastating explosion in kansas city. and masked gunmen rob and make off with $50 million worth of diamonds. what the thieves are up against. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." he was once a rising political star. now the former democratic congressman jesse jackson jr. has come crashing to earth. he pleaded guilty to misusing
campaign funds. afterwards, he was contrite. >> i'm sorry i let everybody down. >> jackson spent more than $43,000 on a rolex watch, $9500 on children's furniture, and more than $10,000 on bruce lee memorabilia. lisa sylvester's joining us now. she's coming into "the situation room." you were at the courthouse most of the day today, lisa. tell us what happened. >> i can tell you, wolf, it's all but certain that prison is going to be in jesse jackson's near future. it could be three years, four years, or five years. both jesse jackson jr. and his wife sandy pleading guilty today in separate hearings. they both cried a little bit in front of a judge. a judge who will decide what happens next. jesse jackson jr. arrived at the federal courthouse without speaking to reporters. later inside, jesse jackson told
the judge, i used moneys that should have been for campaign purposes and at the key moment when the judge asked him, how do you plead, jackson looked back at his parents and looked back at the judge and said, guilty, your honor. they used campaign credit cards like it was their own personal spending account, paying for everything from home appliances, airplane tickets, restaurants, dry cleaning, fur coats, even a spa outing at a holistic retreat for a family member. in this video from a couple of years ago, the couple shows off their chicago home. prosecutors say the couple bought lots of household goods and other items. more than $10,000 at best buy, $15 thou $15,000 from abt lebanon tronics and $9,000 for children's furniture and $4,000 for a michael jackson and eddie van halen guitar.
all told, prosecutors say he misused about $750,000 in campaign money. jesse jackson jr. now a felon admitted to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and false statements. he could face up to five years in prison but his lawyers in a plea agreement with prosecutors have set a sentence in the three to four-year range would be more appropriate, citing his health issues. >> those health issues are directly related to his present predicament. that's not an excuse. it's just a fact. >> jackson was treated for depression and bipolar disease. he's served 17 years in congress. the son of the civil rights leader. >> if you look at the definition of characteristic of bipolar disorder, these were classic symptoms in that people are compulsive with spending. >> jackson's wife sandy also appeared in court pleading guilty to separate charges of
filing false tax returns. a hard fall for a family whose very name has been synonymous with justice and righteousness. >> it's political dynasty in chicago, husband and wife, congressman, just completely changes the history of their name in our city. >> now, sentencing for jesse jackson jr. is scheduled for june 28th. for sandy jackson, july 1st. she faces a possibility of three years in prison. they are going to push for no jail time for her particularly because they have two young children. on the way coming out of the courthouse he said, i'm sorry i let everyone down. he was very supportive. he was clearly there to support his son but we haven't seen a statement as such. within a few hours, i have a feeling by tomorrow we'll hear something from jesse jackson sr.
>> what a fall from grace. >> it's sad. we have surveillance images of the shattering explosion, the flames that landed a popular landmark in kansas city, missouri. one body was pulled from the rubble today from the scene which was j.j.'s a well known restaurant. the explosion is being blamed on natural gas. ted rowlands is on the scene for us. you spoke today to the restaurant's owner. tell us how that went. >> reporter: it was very emotional, wolf. not only the restaurant owner but the restaurant employees here are going through a very difficult time. this time last night, j.j.'s was open, they were serving happy hour. an hour later, just after 6:00 local time here, it exploded with people inside. >> i really can't quite comprehend that.
>> reporter: after 28 years, jimmy's restaurant is reduced to rubble. tp sent ten of his employees to the hospital and one of his waitresses, a 35-year-old woman, megan cramer, is feared dead. >> she was a good employee. we all cared a lot about each other as a family. >> reporter: it could have been much worse. some of the employees and patrons were told to evacuate minutes before the blast. the others, including cramer, were still inside. this shows the moment of the explosion. >> the building exploded. it did not just catch fire. it blew up. that's why she couldn't get out. >> reporter: the cause of the blast is still under investigation. neighbors say they started smelling gas more than an hour before the explosion. >> smelled the strongest gas i've ever smelled. >> reporter: was it overcoming? >> yeah, i could taste it. it was very strong. >> reporter: authorities were called. the fire department came out 45
minutes before the explosion. but instead of ordering an evacuation, they left after discussing it with an employee of missouri gas energy who was already on scene. the gas company has no comment while they continue to investigate. >> we got a call around 5:15 in the evening. i hesitate to mention that because i'm not looking at my notes. so all of that is under investigation and will come out. >> kansas city mayor's sly james who stayed up through the night with his fire department says it's too early to point fingers. >> everybody wants to blame somebody. everybody wants to know these details. but let me just assure you, that's not going to happen today. >> reporter: and wolf, i received an e-mail from the gas company in response to a question i had as to whether or not an evacuation was ever ordered here and they said the ten minutes before the blast an evacuation was ordered by one of their employees at j.j.'s
restaurant. wolf? >> ted rowlands, thanks very much. pretty sad story there in kansas city. for more coverage, go to cnn.com. there's always a chance of a late-breaking compromise but nine days from now automatic force spending cuts will sweep across the federal government totalling $85 billion. the cuts may cause serious misery for a lot of people. but how will these cuts be made? cnn's tom foreman is joining us with a closer look at how it will all fallout. what are you seeing there, tom? >> wolf, one of the things puzzling about this is no one seems to really know in washington exactly how this will work. but we're getting an idea that it's not just because of the 10% cuts across all of these different agencies that the impact may be felt by a lot of people but, more importantly, the way the cuts will probably be administered. i say probably because we don't know how any given department would handle it.
the federal bureau of dog grooming and the principle of how this would be done. 10% cuts here. let's say they have $50 billion for salaries, $30 billion for supplies, $10 billion for conferences and $5 billion for administration and $5 billion for dog rescue. let's say we cancel the conferences this year. there's our 10% and nothing really suffers. we're able to take care of salaries and supplies and still rescue the dogs. here's the problem, though. under the rules of sequestration, they cannot do this. everybody we've talked to has said this would be a line by line cut. each program has to be cut within the department. so what you wind up with is 10% off everything, things that you might be willing to get rid of, you get rid of that. if you take this one out, you don't get any credit anywhere else. that, wolf, is why some people say these cuts are draconian and can affect a lot of programs that neither democrats or
republicans want to affect. the rules will simply make it be affected. >> bottom line, there's no way to avoid this type of across the board cutting? >> there sl a way. you were pushing the white house on this earlier. when you were talking to the white house, the way to avoid is t is for democrats and republicans to have discussions about what parts of all of these they are willing to cut now. they may be able to say there's some program out here that we can take 30% away from or 40% away from and protect the 10% somewhere else but they have to strike that deal and right now they are not striking that deal because republicans won't bend on the question of taxes and the white house will not bend to define precisely what they are willing to cut. >> they've got nine days. let's see if they can get a deal. let's see if there will be a meeting between the president and the speaker john boehner. ronald reagan used to meet with tip o'neil when he was speaker in the '80s. let's see if that happens. tom foreman, thank you.
so are both sides playing these force spending cuts for political gain? let's see what the president said yesterday. >> fbi agents will be furloughed. federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays in airports across the country. >> let's bring in our chief political analyst gloria borger. first of all, the political calculation for the democrats in this -- >> blame. blame, blame, blame. blame the republicans. you heard the president right there. the white house calculation is that in the end, when the public figure out what all of these job furloughs are about, 8,000 at the pentagon alone, they are going to blame the pentagons for not willing to compromise. you heard dan pfeiffer talk about the word compromise. so they are saying, okay, you know what, we are going to take the case to the american people.
we're going to point out exactly what's going to occur and we think they are going to side with us. now, this isn't without risk. take a look at this poll that was done recently, about whether federal spending cuts should take place on march 1. and you see there, not sure. 32%. that's where the white house believes it has its opening but those people could also turn the other way and say, you know what, maybe some spending cuts would not be a bad idea. >> you know, the house speaker, as we've been pointing out, wrote this tough piece in the "wall street journal." the president is raging against the budget crisis he created. and then he says, what they might not realize is that it is a product of the president's own failed leadership. that's john boehner in "the wall street journal." but republicans have their own calculations right now as well. >> again, blame game. we've heard that in washington. and they are going to remind us at every opportunity they have, just like the speaker did an op
ed, that it was the president's idea. that this sequester was the president's idea. let's set aside the fact that 174 house republicans also voted for it but they are going to point out that this was the president's idea and that the public, they say, wants spending cuts. they already believe they've done the tax side of this issue and they believe that they can take this to the american public and the public will be on their side. so, wolf, they are living in completely parallel universes. there right now is no overlap between these two sides. >> yeah, because the republicans are say being, they already raised taxes on the deal in december to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. >> that's right. >> they are not going to raise taxes now. the president says there's only way to avert it, to raise taxes on wealthier americans and big corporations. >> when they realize the
disruption that will occur in their lives, eventually, as you know, it's not all going to happen on march 1, wolf. they say, when we take this to the president and they believe when the public starts focusing on disruption, that they will say, you know what, we don't want this. and the republicans are saying that the public is going to say, you know what, the president ought to compromise because they are not in a mood to raise taxes. they believe in smaller government. the question is, to me, whether people believe in smaller government, more in theory than in practice. and we'll have to see how this plays out. >> i know that some white house officials still believe even at this last minute because i've heard it from them that the republican leadership will blink on the issue of taxes and they will go ahead when all is said and done and raise some more taxes. >> they believe that but when you talk to republicans on the hill they say absolutely no way on this one. >> and boehner himself wrote,
they understand the tax debate is now closed. >> boehner is going to end up cutting a deal, i believe, on immigration but not on this issue. >> get ready for all those furloughs. thank you. up next, a young syrian rebel who once fought for freedom now fighting for al qaeda and he says he's proud to be called a terrorist. and as if superstorm sandy didn't cause a misery in new york, it left behind a growing problem. rats. we have an update. come on, boy! [ barks ] ♪ oh, heavenly day here we go. ♪ cha-cha-cha ♪ don't you know that i love ya ♪ ♪ cha-cha-cha-cha-cha ♪ always thinking of ya ♪ all around the world ♪ everybody singin' along ♪ singin' along ♪ fly me to the moon ♪ let me play among the stars ♪ let me see what spring --
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them with radical islamists growing more powerful and popular. ivan watson is in istanbul with a closer look. >> reporter: a lot can change in a year. ♪ we first met him when he was a 19-year-old revolutionary who sang about freedom. always dressed in the colors of the syrian rebel flag, he worked with a team of activists who called for democracy and human rights staging protests. a year later, he has fallen in with a very different crowd with a very different message. ♪ he won't talk to cnn now. friends say he's a member of the
most famous of the many islam mist rebel groups now fighting the syrian regime. his revolution is an example of a broader shift in syria. >> there is an increasing demilitarization and increased radicalization of the revolution. >> reporter: many demonstrators now wave what they call the black islamic flag of war and there's been friction between islam mists and protesters who still carry the original syrian rebel banner. part of what's attracting syrians to groups like this is that they led rebels to high-profile victories on the battlefield, often with the help of foreign jihadi fighters. >> we black listed the front because of their links within eye rank responsible for the
killings of thousands of iraqis, hundreds of americans. we know what al qaeda and iraq is still doing and we don't want it to start doing that in syria. >> reporter: but with 70,000 syrians now dead and little sign of american support for the opposition, even peaceful syrian opposition groups criticize the u.s. move against misra. >> the u.s. designation of misra as a terrorist organization perhaps makes the united states feel better but doesn't change things for syrians. >> reporter: they have set up a bus service and while distributing food and fuel to hungry freezing syrians. all of this perhaps contributed to why this young man appears to have joined the misra front. he and other supporters of this sunni muslim group have a
chilling message for the president's minority religious sect. just wait, al low wit, the little boy since, we will come to slaughter you. ♪ >> and ivan watson is joining us now. how bad is this tension emerging between these pro-western rebels, if you will, and those with ties to al qaeda? >> reporter: well, some secular rebels will tell you in private that if and when they manage to overthrow the syrian regime that the next battle, they say, will be against the islamists, particularly in the north of the country. one of the most prominent of the activists in the northern city of aleppo, a man who used to lead protests in aleppo against the government, he was detained by misra front fighters who
floged him on his back and he posted this on facebook as proof. just this week, another group setting up a court to institute some sort of justice in rebel-controlled territories, they say that misra detained some of their lawyers. you have to keep in mind, what could also be driving people to join the misra front and other islam mist groups, sheer desperation. we're talking 70,000 people killed in syria in under two years. millions of people displaced and people just don't know where else to turn. if these groups are winning big victories, that's a big reason that is drawing them to somebody that they think could perhaps hasten an end to the syrian government. >> i've heard it repeatedly from administration officials, this is one of the main reason why president obama rejected the u.s. directly arming those rebels, because he feared that the arms might go to a good
group right now, relatively speaking, but that could turn out to be an al qaeda front like misra the day after tomorrow. he's reluctant to start pouring in some pretty sophisticated weaponry to these groups. you don't know where the weapons are going to wind up, was one of the reasons why he decided to reject the recommendation of arming the rebels to begin with. i know a very controversial decision that he made. ivan watson reporting for us and doing an excellent job as he always does. tens and he thousands of greeks poured into the streets today protesting wage cuts, tax hikes, and belt-tightening measures. look at these pictures. mass demonstrators threw rocks and bottles at police who threw tear gas in return. this came amid a nationwide strike that halted schools and traffic and left hospitals with reduced staff. coming up, $50 million worth of diamonds stolen in a brazen heist.
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preliminary autopsy results of mindy mccready's cause of death. lisa sylvester is monitoring that. what happened? >> wolf, we thought this and now we know for sure. she died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. the country singer was found sunday at her home in the same spot her boyfriend died five weeks earlier. a friend says it was a perfect storm that hit her in the days before her death with a proposed court order which would have taken away her children.
in another news, hackers reportedly are responsible for a string of attacks on apple, facebook and twitter. they appear to be looking for research, intellectual property or other information that can be sold in the underground market. no user data was compromised but twitter accounts may have been hit. take a look at this. dramatic pictures showing a massive 150-foot chunk of roadway buckled. weather is not believed to be the cause but rather some kind of geological event. and the white house has unveiled the official portrait of the first lady michelle obama. what do you think there? it was taken last week in the green room. the first lady, who just recently debuted is going to begin a national tour celebrating the third anniversary of her signature let's move initiative inspiring
children to grow up healthy. and i, for one, love the picture. i love everything about it. >> you like the bangs? >> i love the bangs, the backdrop, the pearls. it's a beautiful picture. >> here's a picture i asked kate bolduan, lisa? >> you know, i haven't had bangs since i was a kid. >> i try to imagine lisa sylvester with bangs. >> michelle obama, the first lady, said she was doing it as some kind of a mid-life crisis. so when i hit my mid-life crisis maybe i'll try for the bangs, too. >> lisa, you have a long time. you're very young. thank you. big name republicans in favor of same-sex marriage. that's coming up. our strategy session is next. ! what's...that... on your head? can curlers! tomato basil, potato with bacon... we've got a lot of empty cans. [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup. we've got a lot of empty cans. all right that's a fifth-floor probleok..
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information. the former congressman jesse jackson jr. pleading guilty to misusing campaign funds for personal use. authorities are speaking out about the case. lisa was at the courthouse all day today. lisa, what did they say? >> what we are hearing a few minutes ago there was a press conference with the u.s. attorney's office and we have some sound that we can play for you. but just to set this up, it was earlier today where jesse jackson jr. walked into a federal court and pled guilty. he is accused of using some $750,000 in campaign money for personal use, buying all kinds of things, including michael jackson memorabilia, buying appliances for coats. it is a long list. in fact, the u.s. attorney's office said it was some 30 100 transactions that he used, essentially charging things on a campaign credit card as well as using some checks. so let's take a listen to what he said because i think it puts it all into context.
let's listen to the u.s. attorney's office. >> those contributors were people of modest means, senior citizens on fixed income, auto workers, teachers, plumbers. they donated their hard-earned money so that he could, through his political movement somehow better their lives. he betrayed their trust. he spent their money that was designed or intended to be used to further his elections on items of excess. >> so we are hearing some very harsh phrasing coming from the prosecutors in this case, essentially saying, look, he betrayed their trust. that there were people, there were citizens, these were plumbers, these were teachers who wanted to contribute to his political campaign because he believed in them. this is something that jesse jackson himself acknowledged as he walked out of the courtroom. he did say one thing, which is that he he is sorry that he let
everybody down. wolf? >> they certainly should be. thanks very much for that, lisa. more in the next hour as well. i want to get the quick reaction from paul begala, democratic strategist, david frum, the former white house speechwriter. when you hear this kind of stuff, jesse jackson jr. could wind up in jail for three years, four years, five years. what a fall from grace. >> well, it is worth remembering that there have been a lost questions about jesse jackson sr.'s financial fall. >> jesse jackson sr. is not an elected member of congress or gone to jail or been charged with anything. >> the way his old movement pushed money, was often very dubious. it's a story of history and he's turned some new leaves but they would approach local businesses, they would raise money -- >> he's never been charged with
anything. >> he's never been charged with any form of wrongdoing and it's certainly not illegal to say i'll protest your store or your business unless you in some way pay money to the causes that i support and people who are allies of mine. >> the point you're trying to make, i want to be precise, you think jesse jackson jr. got into this kind of trouble because of his dad? >> no. when you say it's a fall from grace, some of the reporting suggests that what is happening is we have a political dynasty that has somehow been betrayed in the second generation. this is a story more of continuity than discontinuity. >> i can't endorse that. i don't think the son should be visited on the father. i am struck at the power of the statement from the u.s. attorney as someone who spent most of my life in campaign, it's the enormous betrayal. it's a personal tragedy for that family and they have young children. your heartbreaks and you pray for those kids.
but it's $750,000. it's an extraordinary misappropriation. >> and you see the list that went to the judge that's going to make this decision, how long he goes to jail, how long sandy his wife potentially could go to jail. they have two little kids. this is a story that is really, really wrenching in so many respects. let's move on and talk about some other political issues. a new pro same-sex ad coming out including high level republicans. i'm going to play a clip from this commercial that's now out there. >> none of us don't want to be told that we can't mary the person we love. that's why a growing majority of americans believe it's time for guy marriage. >> if couples are committed, they ought to have the same sort of rights that everyone has. >> live together, with the protection of law, it seems to me is the way we should be moving in this country. >> freedom means freedom for emp. >> our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and
sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. >> it's time for marriage. >> that's a pretty powerful commercial. what do you think? >> this issue is coming to a real crux. we have important decisions ahead about the defense of marriage act, whether that's regarded as constitutional or not and what we are seeing is a generational shift in america and generational shift inside the republican party led by people from people like dick cheney. we are living through a real national change of mind and it's a very powerful and sobering thing to see. a great democracy thinking together. >> supreme court has two cases before it right now on this sensitive issue. they are going to hear oral arguments at the end of march. they are going to make a decision by the end of june and that could decide one way or the other which way the federal government is moving. >> first, the defense of marriage act signed by president clinton and i'm sorry to say i didn't think that was a good
move a. good law, or a constitutional law. that will be reviewed. >> that stipulated that marriage is between a man and a woman only. >> and that if a state recognizes it, that other states are not obligated to give full faith and credit to that act. i think it's plainly wrong and unconstitutional. the other one could be even bigger. proposition 8 in california was voted on by the citizens of california and denies equal rights to marry for gays. it's taken a dream team in the case against bush and ted olson the lawyer for that famous case have joined together. stand in line for that argument. these are the two greatest -- >> my little inclination -- and it's just an inclination -- that ad is designed to influence one, maybe two united states supreme court justices. they will be the deciding factor
on this sensitive issue. we'll see what happens, guys. thanks very much. >> thank you. coming up, this woman admits she voted more than once in the presidential election. we have allegations of voter fraud hitting one of the most closely watched states in the united states. ow! ow! [ male announcer ] your favorite foods fighting you? fight back fast with tums. calcium-rich tums starts working so fast you'll forget you had heartburn. ♪ tum tum tum tum tums ♪ ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] don't just reject convention. drown it out. introducing the all-new 2013 lexus ls f sport. an entirely new pursuit.
allegations of voter fraud hit one of the most critical states in the presidential election. this woman, just one of the voters in question, now admitting she voted more than once. let's bring in our crime and justice correspondent joe johns. what's going on here? >> wolf, as far as we know, it's not exactly an ep dick mcbut the ohio attorney general asked to
look for signs of voter suppression and fraud in ohio and they definitely came up with something. hamilton county is seen as one of the true bellwethers, the closely watched spots in the country. so when authorities there indicated they were either issuing subpoenas or referring the names of about 19 voters to prosecutors fored to vote for more than once, it got a lot of attention. one of those people is he will low wees who was a poll worker who admitted voting more than once. she allegedly voted absentee and signed the voting book at the polls. but she says she wasn't trying to break the law. >> there's absolutely no intent on my part to commit fraud. yes, i voted twice. >> she was afraid her absentee
ballot would not be counted in time. investigators say miss richardson filled out an absentee ballot for her granddaughter who voted in person as well. three other absentee requests were made for m. richardson and all three made for the same address in ohio. all three ballots were returned the same date, handwriting on all of the documents was said to be similar. interesting anecdotes but in the big picture it would not have changed the outcome of the presidential election in ohio, says an and elects laws expert. >> what i've heard so far doesn't cause any reason to be concerned. the presidential election, the margin of victory was over 160,000 votes and from what i understand, there are two bad ballots affecting the count, if you will. there were roughly 20 or so instances of potential voter fraud that are subject to
investigation. >> most of the time election officials caught this problem before double votes got counted but there is a lot we don't know. out of 19 people who allegedly tried to vote twice, nine of them got subpoenas because investigators couldn't get them on the phone to talk about it. >> are there any explanations for this, how this could happen? >> yes, there are potentially innocent eggs pxplanations. the county didn't take action because they thought they didn't put enough positive stage on their absentee ballots. >> they've got to tighten up those rules in ohio to make sure it doesn't happen again. >> they are already tightened up already. >> they need to tighten it up again. >> amazing. >> that's a pretty shocking, i've got to say. thanks very much. when we come back, rats invading parts of new york in the wake of superstorm sandy. we have new information. you're going to find out what is being done about the complaint.
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it's time to allow marriage for gay and lesbian couples. when couples are committed they ought to have i think the same sort of rights that everyone has. allowing them to live together with the protection of law, it seems to me is the way we should be moving in this country freedom means freedom for everyone. our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, it's time for marriage.
just the latest horror story to emerge from the widespread sandy devastation, still crippling parts of new york. rats invading parts of the city. let's bring in our own mary snow. she's in new york with details. mary? >> well, wolf, just looking at that picture there, you know it's the last thing anyone wants to deal with, especially after sandy. rats are by no means scarce in this city of 18 million plus people, but to hear exterminators tell it, more of the underground world moved aboveground after sandy, and they're not moving. night the descends on new york city and things can get pretty creepy. and after snowstorm sandy, even creepier.
terry ridgeo says the rat problem in her hard-hit lower manhattan neighborhood exploded. >> it's crazy. you come home from work, you see a rat. it could be daylight, you see a rat. you walk your dogs past nighttime, you see rats frolicking like they're playing, like they're pets having fun. it's disgusting. >> reporter: when sandy flooded subways and tunnels, the theory is rats were literally flushed out, forced to relocate and they're staying put. traps to try and catch them dot streets in lower manhattan, where construction has only compounded the problem. timothy wong says his pest control company is constantly trying to stock up on supplies. >> we even have, believe it or not, for these really nice, fancy areas in manhattan, where they can't use really ugly, they have like rock base stations where it looks like a rock and you can't tell, but inside, there's a hole where rats can go in where you can put poison in there. >> reporter: wong says his company has gotten more than
twice as many complaints about rats and mice compared to a year ago at this time. that's not what the health department says it's seeing. saying that while large storms can flush out rats, they can also drown them. >> i'm going to throw some poison up in the ceiling. >> reporter: growing numbers or not, m&m exterminator jeff wood says he sees new york in a whole different light. >> it is three years of doing it, you kind of get -- you're always looking over your shoulder. >> it's been keeping us building. people's nightmare is really a good day for us. >> certainly not a job for the feint of heart. one city council member says the problem is so bad, she's calling on more exterminators to help clean up. but the city says they've significantly increased rat inspections in the last two years and it says it's seen a decrease in complaints. >> they've got to do something. >> yeah. >> thank you, mary. about $50 million worth of diamonds on the loose after a brazen heist. could they soon end up near a
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airport. what are the chances any of those pieces could end up in a necklace or in a ring like these? we sent cnn business correspondent, zane asher, to new york city's diamond district for answers. >> don't move! >> reporter: straight from a hollywood movie. masked gunman commandeering an armored vehicle during a botched heist. but in this real-life plot, things go precisely as planned. the thieves have already managed to steal the diamonds. now they just have to sell them. >> you don't just get $50 million or more in diamonds and say, how are we going to get rid of this. you've arranged beforehand how to do that. >> reporter: usually with the help of fences. illegal wholesalers willing to buy stolen diamonds for less than they're worth and selling them at a profit. >> whoever thinks they're buying bargain basement diamonds should be careful, because we'll be able to find them sooner or later. >> reporter: experts say these stolen diamonds might be sold for just 30 cent observe the dollar, possibly ending up in a
foreign country where controls are nowhere near as strict. >> you're talking in israel, india, countries that have very large diamond facilities. >> reporter: but the thieves will have to make sure the diamonds don't get traced. >> we may, in fact, try to conceal some piece of it for some period of time. they may not want to get rid of $50 million at once. it may be too difficult. there aren't a whole lot of people who will have the means to come up with payment that quickly. >> reporter: they'll also be up against state of the art technology. some polished diamonds have a unique fingerprint, allowing them to be matched to stolen diamonds in an international database. >> it's actually very simple. we just place the diamond, table down, on the optical glass, we center it, we close the door, and we run it. >> reporter: retailers are also strict about the diamonds they buy, demanding a gia grading report, which lists each stone's unique characteristics, possibly helping identify stolen ones. so you will not accept any
diamond from anybody who comes to sell to you diamonds without this report? >> that's correct. it has to have a report, showing that it's gone through the right institution. >> reporter: but retailers admit that even stolen diamonds can have certificates and thieves will often have diamonds recut to make them harder to trace. >> the people they're going to sell to are going to be corrupt people. they're not going to be selling it in the open market to the normal buyer in due course. >> reporter: and as it is in every jeweler and diamond utter's best interest if these stolen diamonds are recovered, because if too many stolen diamonds saturate the diamond, the price could fall and that could affect the industry as a whole. >> thanks very much. happening now, riveting courtroom details of the shooting that has an olympic star accused of murdering his girlfriend. guards chase our cnn crew investigating chinese hackers. a gynecologist accused of secretly videotaping his
patients. a professor's bizarre lecture that included a strip show. and facebook's mark zuckerberg talks to cnn about teaming with google for a multimillion dollar science prize. i'm wolf blitzer with kate balduan. you're in "the situation room." it's one of the most closely watched court case in the world right now, and this is only the bail hearing for the south african athlete, oscar pistorius, charged with murdering his girlfriend. much of today's hearing focused on the bathroom of pistorius' home, where he shot reeva steenkamp through the door of the toilet room. prosecutors say he shot her deliberately. pistorius says he thought he was shooting at an intruder. cnn's robyn curnow was in the courtroom. >> reporter: well, it was a bit of a roller-coaster day, so much so, it felt like i was watching a television drama. initially, when the prosecution laid out its case, they gave some quite damning evidence.
also, they added to the mix that they had found, allegedly, two boxes of testosterone and syringes in his house. by the time the defense came in after lunch, they bit by bit ripped apart the state's evidence, it unraveled quite spectacularly at one stage, because there was quite an interesting exchange between oscar pistorius' lawyers and the investigating officer. and he said, well, how do you know this is testosterone? have you tested it yet? and he said, no, i just read the label on the box and he said, well, if you'd gone to any pharmacy or any chemist, you would know that this is a herbal medicine. that's the kind of interchange that was taking place. also, the investigating officer really looking quite red faced by the end of his stint on the dock. he admitted that he didn't wear protective foot covers or shoe covers when he walked into the house, she contaminated the crime scene. and we also know that the defense say that they have this
key witness that had heard shouting, arguing in the hour before the shooting. but when pressed further, it emerged, much to the shock, i mean, the court gasped, it had emerged that this witness actually lived about 300 or more meters, that's more than a thousand feet, away from oscar pistorius' house. so really, various aspects of the state's case started unraveling, and i think for anybody who supports oscar, they would have been quite pleased with that outcome. his family even issuing a statement, saying that they had found that they were satisfied with the bail hearing, particularly, i must say, and this is the clincher, wolf, the investigating officer said that he actually couldn't find any inconsistencies with oscar pistorius' version of events. >> yeah, that's obviously good news for oscar over there. did you see a difference in his demeanor today? yesterday, he was sobbing, he was breaking down. what about today? >> reporter: yeah, absolutely. you know, we talked about it.
he was physically sort of bent over yesterday. and you know, physically, he seemed to sit straighter today. and you know, for me, that told a lot. that he seemed to be dealing with the information that was coming out of the court a little bit better, obviously, because his defense team were really hammering holes into the state's case. just let me give you a sense of what his family is saying. his uncle has been talking to the press. take a listen to this. >> he's in extreme shock and so east grieving and he's -- and i don't expect him to get over it, even soon. so he's -- he's still in an emotionally tough time. >> reporter: okay. and of course, all the focus on the drama in the courtroom today, but many south africans say, you know, as oscar pistorius spends his seventh night in jail, just remember, reeva steenkamp's family, you know, their seventh night of realizing, trying to come to
deal with the fact that she's not around anymore, that she won't be here. so, you know, it's still a very emotional day, but very much a focus on the court proceeding. >> to better understand the legal ins and outs of what we're seeing play out in south african, joining me now is dr. james grant. you specialize in criminal law there, dr. grant. so thanks so much for joining me. i want to ask you just a couple questions. we're seeing a lot of detail playing out in the courtroom. we are just in the bail hearing phase. and i think a lot of our viewers here, especially in the united states, are surprised we're hearing so much detail. why is that? >> correct. one of the issues that an accused person would want to address at the bail hearing is the strength of the state's case, and argue, in fact, that the state doesn't have much of a case to meet, in any event. and that's why you're hearing so much detail at this point. >> and criminal trials in south africa, they do not have juries.
it's going to come down to this, it's up to the judge. we are in the bail hearing phase, from what you have seen and heard, do you expect oscar pistorius to get bail, or do you expect him to spend a lot more time behind bars? >> correct. we don't have juries in south africa. they were abolished, probably, i think in the '50s or '60s. and, there were abolished precisely to avoid racial discrimination, precisely because of the history of apartheid in south africa. do i believe that oscar will get bail is the bottom line question. my sense is, at this point, he possibly will. i'm hesitant to say he probably will, but unfortunately, i haven't been privy to all of the evidence that's being presented at the trial. ultimately, though, what it comes down to is, essentially two factors. is he going to present himself for trial if he is released on bail? and secondly, if he is released,
will he interfere with witnesses or otherwise with the state's case? so far, i'm not convinced that there's good evidence that he would interfere with the state's case. it's a tough call on whether you could or one should expect him to flee the country. >> one other thing that has really stuck out is that they say that oscar mipistorius, the first person that he called after this all happened was someone who managed he has estate, someone who work eed on the property. what does that tell you? >> i should just point out that we don't have 911 in south africa, so it's not the -- it's not on everybody's speed dial. whereas it is possible that one might have one's -- on one's speed dial, the manager of the estate where you live. i say that as a possibility. however, it is, of course,
questionable, why, if on his own version, he had just discovered that he had shot his girlfriend, that he didn't phone what is south african -- the south african equivalent of 911, which is either the police who would have then immediately put him through to ambulance services, or alternatively dialed a directory service to put him through to a medical assistance. so fair questions being asked there. >> all right. we'll be watching, all along the way. that's for sure. dr. james grant, thanks so much for your time. >> my pleasure. we're only nine days away from $85 billion in forced budget cuts and the white house and the republicans in congress, they're trading blame instead of trading ideas to avoid the drastic spending reductions that will impact almost every american. our national political correspondent, jim acosta, went to the white house to press for some answers today.
jim, what did you hear? >> reporter: wolf and kate, the white house basically said it's up to the congress to act. so, forin other words, the whit house and the congress moved one step closer, one day closer to those automatic budget cuts that start going into effect at the end of next weekend. and as we've been saying throughout many of these manufactured crises, here we go again. the white house is sounding the alarm. poor children will be tossed out of classrooms, health services will be slashed, border security will be compromised, and the economy will take a hit if forced budget cuts begin to happen on march 1st. the obama administration says republicans will be to blame. >> the choice that republicans are making is, throw these people out of work in order to protect these special tax breaks, for corporate jet owners and oil and gas companies. it makes no sense. >> but when pressed on whether the president has his own plan to stop the cuts, white house press secretary jay carney pointed to the grand bargain mr.
obama failed to reach with house speaker john boehner two years ago. >> when you ask, where's the president plan, it's on whitehouse.gov. it's in the proposals that he submitted to the speaker of the house, that the speaker walked away from here, that everyone here represented, or that most people here stood to be -- >> -- the budget term -- >> that's the deal -- >> and where does the president take the lead -- >> first of all, congress has to act. >> reporter: less than two months since the fiscal cliff that resulted in tax increases on wealthier americans, budget brinkmanship is back. in an op-ed in the "wall street journal," boehner notes the idea for the automatic cuts originated in the white house, adding, mr. president, we agree that your sequester is bad policy. what spending are you willing to cut to replace it? the white house fires back, pointing out boehner seemed satisfied when it was all set in potion two years ago, as part of the debt ceiling deal of 2011. >> when you look at this final agreement that we came to with the white house, i got 98% of what i wanted. i'm pretty happy. >> reporter: the gop responded
by e-mailing out an interview, featuring the chairperson of the senate finance committee, max baucus, saying the president shares some of the blame as well. >> the president is part of this -- >> reporter: and as max baucus was about to say during that interview, before that piece petered out there at the end there, max baucus told an affiliate in montana that the president shares some blame for the sequester, so the republican party was e-mailing that out to reporters earlier today. but when pressed on this issue, wolf and kate, the white house has basically said that the congress should adopt what the senate democrats proposed last week, and that is basically a package that includes a lot of spending cut, but also some tax increases. that is something that the republicans have set up on capitol hill is a nonstarter and i asked a top gop aide earlier this afternoon whether or not there's been any new outreach from the white house, some kind of outreach to prevent this sequester from taking effect, and that top aide told me, wolf,
there's been no old outreach, no new outreach, quote, no anything. so we're still heading towards the end of next week when these sequester cuts take effect, wolf. >> nine days to go. jim acosta at the white house, thank you. so it looks like former democratic congressman jesse jackson jr. will have to do prison time. today both jackson and his wife pleaded guilty to misusing $750,000 in campaign funds, spending the money on things like appliances, fur coats, even a pair of michael jackson's hats. he'll be looking at three to five years in prison when he's sentenced in june. and take a look at this. it's the moment a natural gas explosion ripped apart j.j.'s restaurant in kansas city. officials just announced the construction subcontractor breached a gas line with an underground boring machine, leading to the explosion. the restaurant had been closed because of the odor of gas. at least one person is dead and six others still hospitalized. three are now described as being
in critical condition. and it's a rodeo week in tucson, arizona, but in addition to the horses and cattle and cactus, there are snowmen in tucson today. a winter storm moving through the desert southwest is expected to create big problems as it moves east. forecasters are predicting heavy snow in the central plains, freezing rain in kansas and missouri, and dangerous thunderstorms in the south. we'll be watching all of that head our way. >> we certainly will. and in a rare interview today, the facebook founder mark zuckerberg talked with cnn's ali velshi about a big award the nation's tech giants are giving out for medical research. facebook, google, apple, and other firms set up what's being called the breakthrough prize in life sciences. >> how does this fit into a facebook world in five years or ten years, when this thing is a really big deal? >> oh, it doesn't. there are things that -- i focused on facebook, because i think it's a really good thing for the world. i really believe in our mission of helping people connect and
making the world more open and equitied welcome but there are lots of things that i think would be awesome to see exist in the world that facebook isn't the right vehicle to work on those things through. and it's awesome to be able to work with a lot of folks who are really smart and have been successful in other areas and draw in their experience to do things like this as well. >> are you, while we're here live on cnn, any announcements you want to make about facebook? >> no. >> well, i guess that -- >> the breakthrough awards are sort of like the nobel prize, but it pays twice as much. the first recipients are 11 health researchers who will be getting, get this, $3 million each. >> it shows if you work hard, sometimes you get $3 million. >> you've got a good idea to come up with that -- >> to win that prize? >> yeah. >> i don't think so. chinese hackers allegedly targeting u.s. companies from a complex in shanghai and look what happened when we, cnn, went to investigate. we have details of what we found. >> keep driving.
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you may have heard about the massive hacking operation targeting companies like coca-cola and american oil pipelines and power grids. the hack was traced back to a building in a military complex in china. we sent cnn's david mckenzie to the shanghai building to check it out and he was chased. watch this. >> reporter: driving in the northern part of shanghai. this is the hub of low-tech industry, but it's also allegedly high-tech hub of corporate, and potentially government espionage. the allegations come from a group called mandiant, from the u.s. they say that there are tens if not hundreds of chinese hackers working in conjunction with the chinese government to hack into mostly u.s. companies and steal data and corporate secrets. mandiant says after years of investigations, they pinpointed the hacking to this group of buildings. they said that the hackers would
go in to an institution, through back-door means, and spend potentially years there, stealing secrets. some of these industries were national security industries, like aerospace, high-tech, and i.t. it's clear that this installation of buildings is closely watched by the people's liberation army, and the allegation is that they're working in conjunction with civilian hackers. as we got closer to take a look, we got in trouble. >> keep driving. drive away, drive away. drive away. >> reporter: we've had to move out of sight of that facility. now, the question then, was that a response because it's a military installation, or is there something more here? is this a secret center of chinese bloggers working for the chinese government and attacking u.s. institutions. that's certainly what mandiant is saying, but the chinese government says that's not the case.
they say this is a base leless accusation, and quote, irresponsible. chinese say that 14 million computers are hacked every year here in china, and they blame the u.s. the question is, is this just the next salvo in a cyberwar? david mckenzie, cnn, shanghai. >> let's get some more with the head of the company that uncovered all of this, kevin mandia is the ceo of mandiant. he's joining us here in "the situation room." kevin, thanks once again for coming in. >> thank you. >> all right, you discovered this building in shanghai, you put it in your report. are you surprised by what we just saw from our david mckenzie? >> i've got to admit, i'm surprised they almost caught the car, i think that was pretty impressive. but i think that bolsters and confirms that report. we spent seven years researching this group. all the geeky evidence led us right to shanghai to this one place, and in open source collections about this unit and the buildings that it used led us to the exact same location. there's pretty much no doubt in
our minds, this is a government-run facility for hacking. >> now, they're clearly upset by your report. they don't like the fact that that building has been pinpointed. as soon as i heard about all of this, i said to myself, teahese guys are pretty sophisticated. how worried you that they're going to rye try to target your company, mandiant, and hack into your computers? >> i think that's almost inevitable. we know they've tried to break into mandiant before. there's an example where they impersonated me, impersonated my e-mail address and sent it to two mandiant employees, trying to break in. i'm pretty sure there will be some repercussions in cyberspace from mandiant. >> what do you do? >> we have as many precautions as we have, but they exploit human vulnerability and human weakness and we have over 300 employees. it only takes one of them into being foiled or fooled into doing something -- >> just hit a link and it goes in and could smash your whole thing.
>> just today, the obama administration rolled out their trade secret theft strategy, that's what they're calling it. time going to read you some of the priorities they laid out in this. it says they want to convey concerns to countries with high levels of incidence. this is relating to exactly what you've uncover. they also say, press governments on protection and enforcement, give private sector warnings and threat assessments, increase public awareness of threats and risks. this comes just a day after your report is put out. i mean, seven years after all the work you've done. so what you see here from the obama administration, is that good news. does that change anything, in your view? >> there's a couple things that came out of this. when you respond to this many intrusions, see all the theft of intellectual property that we've witnessed, you recognize there's technical solutions that we've got to pursue, but there's never going to be the holy grail, where we've got the whole field covered. so you need diplomatic things done as well. and that's one of the reasons why mandiant released its port, we felt the tolerance in the private sector, that it's just shrinking. people are sick and frustrated
with how much ip we've lost to chinese hackers. so we felt it was just a natural timing. let's get this report out, let's up the ante, and i think there's a real challenge on the diplomacy side of things, but one thing that struck me is that they said they would increase our diplomatic engagement. i think that's automatically good. without diplomacy, technology alone is not going to solve this problem. >> so good news, in your view, what you heard from the administration today? a first step? >> certainly top of mind, it's good. >> kevin mandia, thanks so much for coming in again. >> good luck not getting hacked. >> thanks a lot. >> that's true. still ahead, to hear president obama tell it, the sky will fall come march 1st when $85 billion in forced spending cuts kick in. is the white house hyping the impact? we'll find out. [ laughing ] [ barking ] ♪ come on, boy! [ barks ] ♪ oh, heavenly day here we go. ♪ cha-cha-cha ♪ don't you know that i love ya ♪
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unless there's a last-minute deal between white house and congress, forced spending cuts will hit federal workers in only nine days. i'm joined now by president obama's senior adviser, dan pfeiffer, joining us from the white house. dan, thanks very much for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. >> you saw the article the house speaker wrote in the "wall street journal," the op-ed page, today, blaming this budget crisis on what he called the president's failed leadership. but he posed this question, i'll put it up on the screen. he said, mr. president, we agree that your sequester is bad policy. what spending are you willing to cut to replace it? so what -- you need $85 billion in spending cuts to avoid what's called these forced budget cuts or sequestration. do you have $85 billion in mind? >> we do. we have $85 billion in mind, we
also have $1 trillion in mind to go along with tax revenue that would raise money for deficit reduction by closing loopholes for the wealthy. so we can solve this problem over the short-term, the house and senate democrats have a proposal that has money from defense cuts, many from cuts in farm payments, combined with asking the wealthy to pay a little bit more, by closing loopholes. so we can do all of this. the question isn't whether we have a plan. we have a plan. the question is whether republicans are willing to compromise, so we can actually solve the problem. >> of the $85 billion, the plan you have in mind to afford the forced budget cuts, give me examples of where you would cut. >> well, we have -- the $85 billion, we have specific cuts and savings on the foreign program. there are cuts in defense spending that we would do. overall, the overall deficit reduction, we have very specific cuts, reforms to medicare, including asking higher income seniors to pay a little bit more -- >> is that part of the $85 billion? >> no, that's part of our -- the president's overall deficit reduction plan that would -- >> but what i'm trying to do is
find out, on the $85 billion, to avoid what's called sequestration, the specifics. so how much would the farm, the money you want to eliminate for farm subsidies, how much would that bring in? >> that's about $30 billion, i believe, wolf. the house and senate democrats have a specific plan -- >> $30 billion this year or over ten years? >> over ten years. >> i'm talking about this year. how much -- >> well, the plan is $3 billion this year, but the whole idea of the sequester is to deal with the spending over the next decade. so the formula that the house and senate democrats are using is the same one that 85, nearly 90 republican senator -- or senators voted for, including 40-some republicans, just two months ago to delay the sequestration -- so we're following their proposal. >> so let's go through some of these specifics. because i think it's interesting. $3 billion in farm subsidies this year. you've still got, what, $82 billion left to go. where does that -- how about your defense spending this year? >> well, wolf, wolf, wolf, what you have to look at is the house and senate democrats' plan.
and it includes, it's about $110 billion, half from tax revenue, half from spending cuts. it's our belief, the president's belief and the belief of congressional democrats that we should deal with the sequester and overall deficit reduction in a balanced way. the republican plan is that all of the deficit reduction should come from, should be paid for by seniors in the middle class and the wealthy should pay nothing more. >> you saw what john boehner, the speaker wrote in the "wall street journal." the president has repeatedly called for even more tax revenue, but the american people don't support trading spending cuts for higher taxes. they understand that the tax debate is now closed. so he says, forget about additional tax increases, between now and next friday. that's closed for now. >> well, i would say two things. one, if the speaker believes that the american people don't think that the wealthy should pay more by closing loopholes, he must be reading the same
poles that have mitt romney winning ohio. second, i saw what the speaker wrote today. i also heard what the speaker wrote two months ago, when he came in and said, we could raise $1 trillion to reduce our deficit, by closing loopholes that benefit the wealthy. so, we agreed with him then. we think that's the right proposal to do. >> dan pfeiffer, speaking with me from the white house. he's now the senior adviser. he was the communications director, speaking is with me from the white house. just some perspective on the $85 billion they want to cut, these forced cuts, you know, the u.s. is spending in afghanistan this year? you know, because i told you earlier. >> just about that. >> $88 billion. so if the u.s. were to withdraw this year, all of its troops, as opposed to next year, $88 billion -- >> some good, tough questions for him. it just does appear that these two sides are not any closer to reaching a deal right now. >> especially when it comes to taxes. >> exactly. >> that's the key issue. >> fight continues. still ahead, making waves in t senate, speaking of congress, with no apologies. the tea party sees a hero in
freshman senator ted cruz, but even some fellow republicans say, he's going a bit too far. he talks to cnn, next. ve been missing on bing. let's bing it on. [fight bell: ding, ding] how many here are google users? what if i was to tell you that you would actually like bing way more than google when it came to the results? prove it. let's look up some taco places. i like the left side. yeah? okay, do we need to find out what the waves are like down at the beach? what side do you like better? i like the results on the right. i'm gonna go with the one on the left. oh! bing won! people prefer bing over google for the web's top searches. don't believe it? go to bingiton.com and see what you're missing. and every day since, two years ago, the people of bp made a commitment to the gulf. we've worked hard to keep it. bp has paid over twenty-three billion dollars to help people and businesses who were affected, and to cover cleanup costs. today, the beaches and gulf are open for everyone to enjoy -- and many areas are reporting their best tourism seasons in years. we've shared what we've learned with governments and across the industry so we can all produce energy more safely.
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boat protection people love. now, that's progressive. call or click today. if we lose our liberty here, where do we go? >> it ain't rocket science. what do we need to do? stop spending money! >> and to explicitly agree with the characterization of the united states as the world's bully, i would suggest is not the conduct one would expect of a secretary of defense. >> to many of his colleagues, he's the brash new kid on the block, trampling the senate's unwritten rules of civility and respect. but to his tea party supporters, ted cruz is a true believer, and shaking things up as part of why they sent him to washington. our chief congressional correspondent, dana bash, is here in "the situation room." she caught up with this brand-new republican senator back in texas, just back from texas. how did it go? >> very interesting.
you know that 2012 was a really bad election year for republicans. and ted cruz is one of only three new republican senate faces and he's already making sure he's a powerful voice of the gop. >> reporter: it had the look and feel of a campaign event. except freshman gop senator ted cruz isn't up for re-election for six years. >> great job with hagel. >> thank you. >> reporter: these texans are applauding their senator's head. turning performance after only one month in office. >> mr. cruz, no. >> reporter: joining only two others to vote against john kerry for secretary of state, aggressively defending gun rights, and trying to take down defense secretary nominee chuck hagel. >> have you been paid directly by a foreign government? >> i've covered the senate for a long time. it is unusual for a freshman to be this outspoken on a high-profile issue. >> at the end of the day, i was elected to represent 26 million texans and to speak the truth. you know, i think a lot of
americans are tired of politicians in washington in both parties who play games. >> reporter: the 42-year-old cuban american, the first hispanic senator from texas, studied free-market principles and memorized the constitution as a teenager, thanks to his father, a cuban refugee. after princeton and harvard law, cruz became solicitor general of texas, arguing for states' right and tlinlgs freedom beforeligioe u.s. supreme court. tea party activists bucked the establishment to help elect cruz and now see their hard work paying off. >> he's the total package. he's brilliant, he's a great messenger for ideas, he's a true believer, and he's a guy you never have to wonder about how he's going to vote. conservatives here in texas who fueled cruz's come from behind tea party win may be ecstatic he's been so aggressive, so fast, but for some senior senators, not so much. one of the guiding principles for the senate, for a freshman senator, is come in and be a
workhorse, not a showhorse. you don't seem to be following that? >> the attention that has focused on me, in my opinion, is actually primarily being driven by an effort to distract from merits of the hagel nomination. >> reporter: cruz angered senators in both parties, demanding to know, without evidence, if hagel accepted money for speeches from foreign countries that oppose u.s. interests. >> if that $200,000 that he deposited in his bank account came directly from saudi arabia, came directly from north korea -- >> reporter: that got him a smackdown from republican john mccain. >> no one on this committee at any time should impugn his character or his integrity. >> reporter: from democrats, suggestions of mccarthyism. >> it was reminiscent of some bad times. >> i do find it ironic that in the course of attacking me and using a label like mccarthyite,
they also chide me for not respecting comedy. >> reporter: it's clear cruz did not run for senate to make friends. >> i find it amusing that those in washington are puzzled when someone actually does what they said they would do. >> reporter: and one of cruz's senate republican colleagues i spoke to said that even in a place of healthy egos, cruz stands out for his ego. and a tea party activist, who was a supporter, also says that perhaps he could have a little dose, a small dose of humor and it could go a long way. was wolf, it was really clear in speaking to him and watching him, he is relishing in the criticism, especially from what he and others call the establishment. >> yeah, he's got a huge following. not only in texas, was outside of texas as well. >> absolutely. >> thanks for going out and and thanks for doing the report. good work from dana out in texas. >> always good work from dana. and you'll remember that senator cruz joined us here in "the situation room" on his first day in the senate and hopefully
we'll have him back again soon. >> he's invited. >> he's always invited. still ahead here in "the situation room," a college lecture unlike any other. you can see the bizarre video. what you don't see is the professor stripping. details of one class students will clearly never forget. ♪ [ slap! ] [ male announcer ] your favorite foods fighting you? fight back fast with tums. calcium-rich tums starts working so fast you'll forget you had heartburn. ♪ tum tum tum tum tums it's lots of things. all waking up. connecting to the global phenomenon we call the internet of everything. ♪ it's going to be amazing. and exciting.
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some columbia university students expecting a routine lecture got something very different instead, a strip show. and now their professor is the one facing some pretty big questions. cnn national correspondent jason carroll had the fortunate opportunity to cover this story today and the bizarre video connected to it. so jason, what is going on? >> well, i think a lot of parents are asking that very
same question now. the professor in question was basically trying to get the students' attention. he did that, kate. but he also got the attention of columbia administrators as some in the university and outside of it, for that matter, are questioning if the professor went just a little bit too far. >> reporter: to say it was not the standard lesson in quantum mechanics would be an understatement. >> he didn't really need to go that far. >> it was unique. >> the behavior and interactions of energy and matter did not matter, it seems, as much as the behavior of professor emlem hughes and how he interacted with his students during his lecture monday. hughes stripped to his underwear while eating a banana and did not stop there. he then changed into a ninja costume. >> what is happening? >> a student capturing it on video, as toughed animals are impaled, images of 9/11 and osama bin laden flashed on a
giant video screen. freshman sarah thompson and katherine nebbit were there. >> kind of bizarre, but, like, he has the right to do it, i think. >> reporter: well, clearly, he may have the right to do it, but do you think what he did was the right thing to do? >> um, i think that everybody's going to have a different opinion on that and i think -- i mean, it's a form of expression. >> i think this might have been a first in his teaching career, but, if he wants to apologize, i guess he could. i don't think he should be fired or reprimanded, though. >> reporter: professor hughes did not respond to requests for an interview. as for explanation, he told students at his lecture the following. >> in order to learn quantum mechanics, you have to strip to your raw, erase all the garbage from your brain and start over again. quantum mechanics, nothing you
have learned in your life up to now will in any way help you prepare you for this. >> reporter: unorthodox teaching methods not new. a teacher suspended for showing a movie about pornography. another at northwestern landed in hot water after a naked woman appeared as part of a class demonstration. and a south carolina english teacher could be terminated for stomping on an american flag during a lesson. experts in education say sometimes unconventional methods are needed to motivate learning. >> even though you're a master of the material, being able to present that in an engaging and a dynamic way is part of the challenge of being an effective and a good college instructor. >> reporter: hughes' fate at columbia, unknown. the university released a statement which reads, in part, "columbias's faculty handbook states that in conducting their classes, faculty should promote an atmosphere of mutual tolerance, respect, and civility and should confine their classes to the subject matter covered by their courses."
well, the university also goes on to say that while one must exercise caution in judging excerpts from a lecture or short presentations from an entire course outside of their full context, the appropriate academic administrators are currently reviewing the facts of this particular presentation in quantum mechanics. we'll just have to wait and see, kate, what happens to old professor hughes. i have to tell you, from talking to all the students there, he is well respected, well liked, and this was completely out of character. >> clearly they like him and clearly they will not forget that class anytime soon, jason. >> that's for sure. >> thanks so much. you know, i guess sometimes you got to get their attention. it is quantum mechanics. >> did you study quantum mechanics -- >> how did you know, that was clearly my major. i do applaud him for thinking outside the box. okay. just ahead, we have a special "situation room" report. >> i'm brian todd in baltimore. there are shocking new allegations against an ob/gyn
doctor who worked at this hospital in baltimore. did he record his patients in the examining room without their knowledge? i'll that story coming up. axiron is not for use in women or anyone younger than 18. axiron can transfer to others through direct contact. women, especially those who are or who may become pregnant, and children should avoid contact where axiron is applied as unexpected signs of puberty in children or changes in body hair or increased acne in women may occur. report these signs and symptoms to your doctor if they occur. tell your doctor about all medical conditions and medications. do not use if you have prostate or breast cancer. serious side effects could include increased risk of prostate cancer; worsening prostate symptoms; decreased sperm count; ankle, feet, or body swelling; enlarged or painful breasts; problems breathing while sleeping; and blood clots in the legs. common side effects include skin redness or irritation where applied, increased red blood cell count, headache, diarrhea, vomiting, and increase in psa.
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shocking allegations that a doctor may have secretly videotaped his patients with hidden cameras. >> our brian todd has been digging into this and he's live for us now in baltimore this evening. brian, what are you learning? what a troubling story. >> reporter: kate, wolf, baltimore police tell us about 300 of dr. nikita levee's patients have contacted them to give information on this case. the police tell us they are now coming through an enormous amount of evidence. for about 25 years, he worked as an ob/gyn at this medical
center, affiliated with johns hopkins hospital in baltimore. now johns hopkins and baltimore police say dr. nikita levee illegally photographed his patients and possibly others without their knowledge. >> one of the cameras that we can confirm is a pen camera, and there are other types that we don't want to get into, again, given the sensitivity of the investigation. >> reporter: how many cameras were in the office? >> multiple. there were multiple cameras. i really can't get into a number. >> nor can police say what else the cameras were hidden in. they say they're examining, quote, a mountain of evidence. still, in video cameras, multiple computers, servers, external hard drives. they're investigating whether levee might have had an accomplice and -- >> what did he do with this information? did he sell it? was it put on the internet? >> reporter: some of dr. levee's patients spoke to cnn affiliate wjz. >> dr. levee was the sweetest person. this is all -- this is just shocking. >> that's a violation. you understand what i'm saying?
that's somebody you're supposed to trust with your body, your information, which is supposed to be confidential. >> and now dr. nikita levy can't answer the allegations. after learning of his alleged transgressions on february 4th, they terminated him on february 8th and offered him counsel. ten days later, police in townsend, maryland, responded to a call here at dr. levy's home. they say he was dead when he was arrived. they're investigating it as a suicide. johns hopkins says it promptly reported the alleged activity to the police. in a statement, johns hopkins says, "an invasion of patient privacy is intolerable. words cannot express how deeply sorry we are for every patient whose privacy may have violated." attorney andrew sclutskin says he's been contacted by patients
of dr. levy's. >> the story is that a johns hopkins employee noticed something unusual about dr. levy's examinations and alerted a supervisor. no one knows at this point what it was other than hopkins and they're not speaking about the issue. >> reporter: johns hopkins says it is conducting its own investigation. we could not reach dr. levy's attorney for comment. earlier, i went to dr. levy's home and knocked on the door to see if anyone there would speak on his behalf. a gentleman who answered the door declined to do so and said, quote, this is all news to us. wolf, kate? >> what a story, brian todd, thanks very much, brian todd in baltimore. cnn's erin burnett is going "outfront" tonight on a gruesome discovery. the body of a missing woman found inside a los angeles hotel water tank. erin joins me now live with a preview. what a crazy story, erin. >> and what's even crazier is how they found out about this. people who were staying at this hotel started complaining of low
water pressure and funny tasting water. frightening. and when they went up to investigate the reason why, they found a body. we're going to tell you about this story and exactly how this could have happened. and also, what the link is between that body and the water that people were drinking in the hotel room and who the person was. we also have exclusive and new photos of reeva steenkamp, of course, the girlfriend of oscar pistorius, who was killed. these are some pretty amazing pictures of a man who had worked with her several times on photo shoots and they're pretty -- they're pretty beautiful. and in tonight's essay, we talk about the post office's new fashion foray with a yeah, pretty strong opinion on that one. see you guys at the top of the hour. >> as always, we'll see you at the top of the hour. still ahead, a weather man goes live from a stunt plane to experience the force of eight gs, but it doesn't quite go as planned. find out what happened. ] [ barking ] ♪ come on, boy! [ barks ] ♪ oh, heavenly day
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